914. Heaven or Las Vegas

(Hey folks, I notice we’re only $16 from triggering a Saturday post! I’ll keep an eye on it! -ctan)

I should have known that this wouldn’t just be one of Jordan’s regular parties at his loft. But until Tony pulled the limo up to a velvet-roped line somewhere on the Lower East Side, that’s what I had been picturing.

I should’ve realized Ziggy wouldn’t have bothered to have his hair and makeup done for just a loft party.

And I guess I should have realized that Jordan was treating Freddie Mercury’s death like we were all ex-pats and our head of state had died. Even looked at cynically, even if he had no professional connection to Queen, Jordan wouldn’t pass up such a rich networking opportunity. Anyone who was anyone in the music industry’s queer whisper network would be there.

Looked at un-cynically, maybe Jordan was simply moved. He certainly looked awful, like he hadn’t slept, his usual deadpan face looking cracked somehow. After we passed the guest list, he exchanged cheek kisses with Ziggy, and then he and I got into a bear hug and didn’t let go. It was the first time I felt a lump in my throat and a pang of actual grief over it, as if it finally sank in, not the fact that Freddie was gone but the tragedy of it, the huge amount of sorrow that his absence would leave behind.

You know. Shit.

The hug went on far longer than any one I could remember–in fact at that moment I couldn’t remember ever hugging Jordan before. Jordan, for all his orchestrations of sensual delights for his guests–from coffee to blow jobs–at his place, was not himself a touchy-feely kind of guy. Usually. You might remember I lived with him for what, one, two months? And although there was a kind of sexual tension between us, it never got physical. It remained a kind of potential, a kind of magnetic, elastic leash he could use to tug me in various directions, which sounds sneaky except I trusted him to lead me through whatever creative process we were working on.

He was dressed sharply, in a suit jacket and tie I would have called silver rather than gray, and a black shirt. I couldn’t remember ever seeing him dressed like that, either. The décor of the place was shabby chic, worn-out velvet and Tiki lights, rather than punk or industrial.

When he finally let go of each other, he held me at arm’s length and looked me up and down. “You okay?”

I hesitated on my answer: there were too many ways to answer that question and it was a process to figure out how much detail to go into. “Um.”

“I didn’t mean–” he started to say.

“I’m here, aren’t I?” I said at the same time. “I mean, I’m functional enough to get here, anyway.”

“I wasn’t sure you two would make it from Boston.”

A host of answers went through my head, none of which seemed right to say. Ziggy felt he needed to be here, so I came, too. We wouldn’t have missed it. Boston isn’t that far. I’m not a complete basket case. “I wasn’t sure, either,” is what I said. My brain finally decided to tell him something about how I was actually doing. “I haven’t picked up a guitar in weeks, but my therapy is going well. Hand therapy, I mean.” Whoops. “Brain therapy is going okay, too. Ziggy and I are kind of weirdly enjoying playing house together.”

He cracked a smile. “When you buy a place together, invite me to your housewarming.”

“Ha, don’t get any crazy ideas.” Speaking of playing house, there was Jonathan by the bar. “Don’t let me keep you.”

He gave a short nod of agreement, kissed me on the cheek, and then moved on to greet the next guest. Ziggy had already sailed ahead of me and was about to engage Jonathan in a conversation. My brain was starting to kick into gear for the New York club scene. This place wasn’t huge like Limelight. It was more of a queer underground spot, normally closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, except for a private party like this. How convenient of Freddie to die on a Sunday night. I wondered who else we’d be seeing. Sarah, maybe? And–

“Hey!” A familiar voice and a familiar hand on my arm spun me around.

“Matthew!” I gave my second bear hug in as many minutes. “Is Dennis with you?”

He gave me a puzzled look and I realized I had completely forgotten his partner’s name. “You mean–”

“Archie! I mean Archie. I have no idea where ‘Dennis’ came from.” Was that the name of one of my neighbors back in West Hollywood? No, I think they were Jerry and either Richard or Robert. More likely Robert, but I wouldn’t have put money on it.

Matthew didn’t let my thoughts spin for very long. “Oh, he stayed home. Crowds can be kind of strenuous.”

No kidding.

“He took a bad turn a couple weeks ago, but I think he’s getting better now.” He grimaced almost apologetically, like he was sorry to have to give me bad news, the crow’s feet at his eyes deepening. “You doing okay? I heard through the grapevine you had some rough patches.”

Guilt ran up my back like a hungry lizard. I owed Remo a phone call. I kept putting off calling him, figuring the longer I did, the better the news would be when I finally talked to him. But it had gone entirely too long. “Yeah, I let some things really get to me. And I never should’ve tried to get through a tour with the injury I had.”

Had. Like it was in the past, and not something I was still dealing with. Maybe saying it like that was a sign that I was actually getting past it, though.

I didn’t want to say much more about it, or my troubles overall. Time to shift the conversation to someone or something else. “Hey, I’ve introduced you to Jonathan before, right?”

“The one who used to write for SPIN? Of course.”

“He’s by the bar. Let’s go say hi.”

“Sure, come on.” It was getting crowded fast, and actually getting to the bar was going to take some doing. Matthew went into roadie mode and forced people to make a hole, and I followed. Hey, it worked.

Jonathan was there with another man–I could tell they were together just by the way J. touched his arm. I had a vague memory that he’d met someone and had wanted us to meet.

My memory was correct. “Daron!” Cheek kiss and hug and a touch on my arm, and then J. was pulling me over to meet someone. “This is Davide!”

He was almost as tall as J. with very short, dark hair, wearing a dark sport coat over a collarless shirt. “I’ve heard so much about you,” he said, as he offered me his hand.

I shouldn’t have shaken hands. Or I should have given him my left. It hadn’t occurred to me this guy would be the type to try to crush someone in their handshake. Maybe only his beau’s exes, I don’t know. Anyway. I shook his hand and then I had to try to pretend it didn’t hurt, but I failed and ended up tucking it under my armpit, which both J. and Ziggy (who hadn’t gone far) noticed immediately. And that led to the whole story of how I saved my godson from a rather large, rather sharp knife at the expense of my own bodily integrity having to be told. I mostly didn’t say much while other people filled Davide in on why I was acting like, but was not actually, a prima donna. And then he was very apologetic and embarrassed about having let his testosterone level get the better of him. He avoided me for the rest of the night and I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same.


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